Saturday, 5 July 2008

Church of Ireland head: We may allow gay unions

The head of the Church of Ireland has said if homosexuality is proven to be biologically predetermined then his church would have to allow gay unions.

"If such comes to be shown, it will be necessary to acknowledge the full implications of that new aspect of the truth," said Archbishop Alan Harper.

His remarks come in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding comments made by DUP MP Iris Robinson.

Mrs Robinson said that gay sex was a sin and an abomination.

Alan Harper, who was speaking at the Anglicans in World Mission conference in Swanwick, England, called on members of the church to return to the core principles of the faith in order to resolve the controversy over gay marriages.

Mr Harper also said it was important to distinguish parts of the Bible that were considered the direct word of God and other elements that were human interpretations of his teachings in the context of the time.

"Rulings that may have applied and been deemed valid at one time and in one specific circumstance need not necessarily retain that applicability and validity at another," he said. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

ABps 'can do nothing' about lack of Conservative bishops

General Synod, Friday 4th July

[...] A question was asked about the observations and proposals in the Pilling Report that conservative evangelicals are discriminated against in relation to episcopal appointments (ie there are no conservative evangelicals in the House of Bishops and probably only one in the College of Bishops). The response of the Archbishop of Canterbury was in effect to say that whilst he and the Archbishop of York understand the issue there is nothing they can really do about it. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Church of England urged to "disagree in love" over women bishops

The Church of England has been urged to be an example of how Christians can "disagree in love" as it debates plans for women bishops that threaten to tear it apart.

At the General Synod's opening at the University of York, the Rev Prebendary Kay Garlick acknowledged the outcome would inevitably bring "hurt" to some members.

But she said the Synod should present a model of how Christians who disagree can respect and care for each other.

Around 1,300 traditionalist clergy, who believe ordaining female bishops goes against the bible's teachings, have threatened to leave the Church raising the prospect of a damaging schism. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Church in the lurch

[...] In the Church of England, the General Synod endorsed the principle of women bishops years back. What the present row is about is the measures the church will introduce to provide for those who wish to remain in the Church of England but who say they cannot, on grounds of conviction, accept this development.

Three options are before the meeting. The one endorsed by the House of Bishops, which its critics describe as a "like it or lump it" option, proposes the change be introduced with a code of conduct on how to accommodate the conservative dissenters. It would abolish the practice of "flying bishops" introduced when women were first ordained in 1994 to minister to opponents of women priests. The other clear proposal is for "non-geographical" dioceses to minister to such priests and parishes. Opponents say they would be a church within a church.

In between is a middle option, with four variants, for complex relationships with "complementary bishops" to work within the existing structure. This is the option which no faction prefers but which might be agreed.

"Those who disagree with women bishops are only a small minority but they make a lot of noise," says Christina Rees, who favours the bishops' recommendation. "They are a very small tail wagging a very big dog." Only 2 per cent of parishes ever asked for flying bishops, she says, and only 7 per cent said they weren't prepared to have a woman as their next vicar.

Anglo-Catholics have threatened to leave in large numbers. "We're trying to find a way to stay in, not to leave," says Canon David Holding, leader of the catholic group opposed to females in the episcopacy. He wants a separate non-geographical diocese for dissenters. "It's the only option that will give us adequate protection; [the middle-way option with] all the variations will be incredibly complicated to implement."

The liberals are dead set against that. "The non-geographical diocese would be a bridgehead for a Gafconite takeover," says Dr Giles Fraser. The conference in Jerusalem has made the liberals far less likely to concede that option. Gafcon's closing statement may have insisted that it was not a breakaway from the Anglican Communion, nor an attempt to take over its institutions by hardliners who think the CofE ought to be out there campaigning to convert British Muslims. But many liberals just do not believe them. "You can dress an elephant in a tutu and insist that it's a ballerina," one liberal blogger said, "but it still poops big and eats peanuts." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Friday, 4 July 2008

How to solve the question of female bishops

In the coming days, the General Synod of the Church of England is debating again the subject of female bishops. No one could ever accuse the established church of moving with undue haste although most agree that the debate has shifted from the "if" question of women bishops to the "how" question.

Anyone with some knowledge of Anglicanism might be forgiven for thinking that the answer to the "how" question of women bishops is quite simple. The first woman to be made a bishop in the Church of England will receive the laying on of hands from one of the archbishops and at least two other bishops at her consecration. The Archbishop of Canterbury or York will pray to God for her to receive the gift of the holy spirit for "the office and work of a bishop in your Church". It is a solemn, holy and profound moment. We Anglicans are fond of saying that the way of praying is the way of believing (lex orandi, lex credendi). So, by our own reasoning, the answer to the "how" question couldn't be more straightforward. We've done this thousands of times before; we have, one can say confidently, a certain competence.

But the actual "how" at the centre of the debate concerns the safeguards (a revealing choice of words) of the minority opposed for a variety of reasons to women serving as priests and bishops. These range from continued provision of bishops uncompromised by close association with women priests and bishops to the creation of entirely new separatist, non-geographical dioceses. The language is emotive and, at times, frankly manipulative, as is often the case when positions are strongly held.

What is striking, however, is the adoption of the language of "pain" by those opposed to an ordained ministry in which men and women may both serve. Striking because before the Church of England approved woman as priests in 1992, opponents constantly told supporters that the pain of women excluded from the priesthood must have nothing to do with our corporate decision making – that would be to give into mere feelings. The debate should be fought on theological grounds; pain is not an "argument". Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Let a church so fond of division test its worth in the marketplace of belief

Those eager for small talk with Gordon Brown should try Scots Presbyterian schismatism, on which he is remarkably well informed. British rulers since the days of Trollope have found the politics of religion an absorbing relief from the trials of office. It usually means someone in even bigger trouble.

But the show has always stayed on the road through the remarkable tolerance of the Anglican community, "broad of church and broad of mind, broad before and broad behind". From Anglo-Catholics to happy-clappies, old codgers to gays and lesbians, the ever benign Church of England embraced them all, no questions asked.

Now those versed in these things tell us that the elastic has stretched too far. The church is on the brink of snapping apart. Need we care?

The scenario is near unbelievable. At a meeting last week in Jerusalem a dissident body called the Global Anglican Future Conference summoned 300 bishops and archbishops from round the world to set up a Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, within or without the "70-million strong Anglican communion". So-called Gafcon and Foca might be from the satirical film Life of Brian. We read that Lagos is threatening to denounce Canterbury. Sydney is at loggerheads with Ottawa. America is threatening to create a "new province". All and sundry are castigating the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, for failing to show "moral leadership"; if he did, they would certainly refuse to follow.

Meanwhile, 1,300 English clergy are about to defect if gays or women are given equal rights (or rites), while 800 more are forming "a church within a church". St Bartholomew the Great is told that it may "disagree but not disregard" Lambeth Palace in blessing gay unions. Journalists must pore over the Book of Common Prayer to see how a blessing relates to a marriage, or an ordination to an enthronement. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Women bishops row tops Synod agenda

Church of England General Synod members are gathering for a five-day meeting likely to be overshadowed by the divisive issue of women bishops.

Traditionalists are expected to clash with campaigners in favour of women bishops in key debates at the meeting of the Church's ruling body at the University of York.

The argument will centre on how far those clergy and parishioners who object to women bishops should have special arrangements, such as new "non-geographical" dioceses.

A House of Bishops motion will ask Synod members to back work on a national code of practice to cater for objectors.

Such a move would mean a repeal of legislation allowing parishes to vote against having a woman presiding over services in favour of arrangements set out in the code.

It would also mean ending the Act of Synod which allows for so-called "flying bishops" in the Church of England to minister to opponents of women priests.

Conservative Anglican groups such as Forward in Faith has said that without safeguards such as new dioceses for objectors the Church risks losing more than 1,000 clergy. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Church of England campaign to target young priests at General Synod

The Church of England is to launch a national campaign at this weekend's General Synod to encourage more young people to consider training to become priests.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will unveil the scheme which will target college-leavers with posters depicting young priests ministering in fashionable or exciting locations.

The initiative is being launched in response to falling numbers of young people coming forward for ordination, while total numbers of Church of England ordinations have been rising over the past decade.

The posters are linked by the slogan "There's more to ordained ministry than you think", with one featuring an Army chaplain in battle fatigues under the title "Touring The Parish - via Afghanistan". Another is strapped "Evening Service" and shows Lorraine Dixon, a nightclub chaplain and DJ.

In 1996, some 20 per cent of the 453 ordained in the Church of England were aged under 30 but by 2006 just 15 per cent of the 594 ordinations were of the same age group. Of the 595 people recommended for training in 2007, just 88 (14.8 per cent) were under 30. The trend for middle-aged ordinations has been steadily rising. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

From the Rector of All Souls to the Editor of The Independent newspaper

Dear Sir

You published an article today under the headline "Anglican rebels punched gay rights activists". [Here.]

As the alleged incident took place at the church of which I am Rector I have spent some time today trying to track down details concerning the alleged incident. The following seem to me to be relevant.

1. The event was oversubscribed and no-one was therefore admitted without a ticket they had paid for. This was true regardless of rank, sexuality etc.

2. The activists attempted to enter through a fire door entrance, pushed one of my staff members who admits that he pushed them back out of the door and closed it. He denies any punch was thrown as does another member of staff who witnessed the event.

3. I have spoken to a number of people including two members of staff who had conversations with Peter Tatchell on the steps of the church and no reference was made to any of them about any alleged punch.

4. No member of staff that I can find, or anyone else that I have spoken to, was approached by your reporter to confirm or explain the allegation.

The fact that you have headlined this damaging allegation without checking or substantiating it seems at least unprofessional journalism and not the kind of reporting I would expect from a serious newspaper like The Independent. Would you please take steps to remedy the damage you have caused immediately.

Yours sincerely

Hugh Palmer
(Rector, All Souls Church)

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Correction in the Guardian

(Ed: Perhaps they'd now like to correct the stuff about 'breakaway factions' and 'Anglican rebels'.)


We misrepresented the views of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in reporting his response to a breakaway faction within the Anglican communion. We quoted him as saying: "If they [the teachings] are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them ... " He did not say this about the teachings of the Anglican communion, but about its institutional structures (Archbishop confronts Anglican rebels, page 1, July 1).

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Two new GAFCON petitions

The petition for English PCCs and other organizations wishing to express solidarity with GAFCON is now available online here.

Due to several non-English residents wishing to sign the petition for individuals, a 'Global' petition is now available here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Chris Sugden: Gafcon can save Anglicanism

For five years, the Episcopal church in US, the Anglican church of Canada, and elements of the Church of England and church in New Zealand have acted precisely like the student unions of the 1970s and Militant tendency in putting facts on the ground and defying the authorities to do anything about it. Some bishops and others have been presenting a different Christian gospel, expressed in disobedience to the teaching of the Bible, and continue to persecute and harass those who resist and object.

If the current dispute is merely a matter of different perspectives and emphases, as the Archbishop of Canterbury suggests, why are the bishops who are promoting this different gospel driving people out of their churches and removing licences from priests such as Dr Packer?

Gafcon became necessary following the persistent failure of the current authorities in the Anglican Communion to do anything about this deliberate flouting of Christian teaching and decisions of the whole Anglican Communion and its leadership. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

GAFCON: for Parish Magazines and Newsletters

The article below may be useful for parish magazines and newsletters.

Is the Church of England ‘splitting’?

For the last week the news media have been full of stories about a ‘split’ in the Anglican Communion. Interest has focussed especially on the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) which took place in Jerusalem in the middle of June, and on a follow-up meeting in London on July 1st.

GAFCON was a response to a trend which has been affecting the Anglican Communion for over fifty years, but which came to a head with the consecration of a divorced priest in a homosexual relationship as Bishop of New Hampshire in the USA in 2003.

That trend may broadly be described as ‘theological Liberalism’. Liberal theology has in the past contributed much by way of thoughtful challenges and ideas. Without strong traditionalist foundations, teaching and leadership, however, the Church that builds on Liberalism soon finds it is resting on sand.

Asked in an interview with Time magazine whether belief in Jesus is “the only way to get to heaven,” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, answered, “We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine.” Not only does this duck the question, but it reduces Jesus to some kind of spiritual ‘space shuttle’ to get you into God’s orbit — a far cry from the ‘true God of true God’ found in the Creed.

Another important feature of the new Liberalism is in the area of human sexuality, where there is growing acceptance of same-sex relationships. In North America, this has resulted in the blessing, and even the ordination, of many people in such relationships, quite contrary to the long traditions of the Church and to what the Bible has to say.

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference of bishops issued a statement which established the traditional, biblical, view of human sexuality as the ‘Anglican’ position. Since then, however, Anglicans in the USA and Canada, often supported by people in this country and other ‘Westernised’ parts of the Communion, have advanced an agenda to challenge this. Repeatedly there have been meetings at which bishops and Archbishops have agreed to ‘hold the line’, only for some of them to go home and do the exact opposite.

By late last year, it was obvious that as a result many bishops would be unwilling to come to this year’s Lambeth Conference. At the same time, in North America individuals, churches and even whole dioceses were leaving the denomination. In many cases this resulted in expensive legal action being taken against them.

GAFCON came about partly to resist the spread of this extreme Liberalism and partly to provide a haven for those who were in danger of leaving the denomination. GAFCON is not trying to create a split, but to contain it within the Anglican Communion by re-asserting traditional Anglican teaching and values. The Jerusalem Statement repeats what is found in our own Canon Law: “The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”

Quite what GAFCON will mean for us here in England remains to be seen. Certainly, however, the Church of England will never quite be the same again.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

GAFCON petition for individuals

Following today’s meetings at All Souls Langham Place, a petition is available for signature online here for those individuals within the Church of England in England who wish to indicate their solidarity with the GAFCON movement. The wording of the petition is,

"I stand in solidarity with the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement on the Global Anglican Future."

The Jerusalem Declaration and Statement may be read here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

The English Clergy joining the breakaway faction

Ed: Actually this is quite possibly the silliest piece of 'news' on this whole subject. If you go here you will find the Guardian has listed a number of clergy for no apparent reason other than that they were linked with this afternoon's post-Gafcon meeting at All Souls. The problem with the 'article' is (a) there were far more than just these clergy present and (b) rather more importantly, there is no breakaway faction.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

BBC News: Clergy reject gay 'false gospel'

Traditionalists within the Anglican church have promised an alternative to what they call a "false gospel" on issues such as homosexuality.

The group, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, has been meeting to discuss setting up a "church within a church".

It says it may intervene in churches, including the Church of England, to combat liberal approaches to sexuality.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has criticised the plans as "fraught with difficulty". Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Daily Telegraph: Anglican Church 'in chaos' say rebel leaders

The Anglican church is in "chaos" with the "moral authority" of the Archbishop of Canterbury lying in tatters amid growing splits over homosexuality and women bishops, rebel leaders claim.

In a direct challenge to the leadership of Dr Rowan Williams, three leading Archbishops said they had decided to "take things in hand".

Leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca), a newly formed network for millions of Anglicans angered by the rise of liberal theology, denied that they planned to "seize power" within the church.

But Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, and Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of South America's Southern Cone, said they planned to "reassert the authority of the Bible".

Dr Williams is facing a crisis on two fronts with traditionalists flexing their muscles over the issue of gay clergy within the 77 million-strong Anglican communion at the same time as threats of splits at home over the ordination of women bishops.

The three bishops made their comments after addressing hundreds of Church of England clergy in London about the formation of the new group at the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) in Jerusalem at the weekend.

In a sign of the strong emotions aroused, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell attempted to storm the meeting before being repelled by security. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Damian Thompson: Dr Rowan Williams is panicking

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the establishment of the Church of England have been thrown into a state of panic by the sudden emergence of a conservative church-within-a-church that isn't - quite - schismatic.

Just listen to this waffle, the Archbishop's "official response" that we report today: "It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion ... renew them rather than improvise solutions ... think very carefully about the risks entailed ..."

Etc. You get the picture. The poor man hasn't got a clue what to do next, has he? Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Australian Primate "urges rebels to rethink"

THE Anglican Primate of Australia, Phillip Aspinall, has called on rebel Anglicans, including the Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, to reconsider their boycott of Lambeth, the decennial conference of national church leaders, saying reform must come from within.

Responding to the conservatives' threat to create a breakaway faction within the global church, Dr Aspinall said there was room for diversity within the church's boundaries.

His guarded comments came as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, challenged the autonomy and legitimacy of the breakaway faction, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, announced by conservatives angered by liberal thinking over homosexual clergy and same-sex blessings.

But Dr Williams said a primates council comprised of a self-selected group would not "pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion". And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries was fraught with difficulties, theological and practical. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Bishop of Southwark: Anglicanism's militant tendency must be resisted

[...] Reading the manifesto, you would think that western Anglicans have capitulated totally to their culture. This, again, is nonsense. We are trying to relate the Christian gospel with its grace and challenge to the culture in which we are set. At an earlier Lambeth conference, when polygamy was a divisive issue, the conclusion was that we would trust the African bishops to tackle the issue in their own way, for they were best placed to do so. The cultures of east coast America or south London are not the same as in Nigeria. The Gafcon leaders should have the humility to trust church leaders ministering in very different environments to their own to know what they are doing.

Apparently, some of the authors of the manifesto are now coming to Britain to attempt to recruit English parishes and clergy to their movement. All I can say is that it was good, thoughtful, hardworking clergy from the evangelical tradition who, a couple of years ago, demanded that I took action against militant tendency evangelicals destructively planting congregations in their parishes. I cannot see them rushing to join such a global movement themselves.

It seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that enough is enough. In the face of hectoring unreason, he writes, in the traditional Anglican language of thoughtful holiness: "The Gafcon proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks involved."

I think that he is saying, "Don't go down this destructive path." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Online petition against 'Single Clause' option on women bishops passes 1,000 signatures

With the General Synod of the Church of England about to vote on how to introduce women bishops, over a thousand people have signed an online petition supporting the traditional view on church leadership and rejecting the ‘Single Clause’ approach which will be presented by the House of Bishops.

If adopted by Synod, this would abolish the present legal provisions for those who cannot accept the ministry of women priests and bishops. Parishes would not be able to opt out of having women priests appointed or visit to conduct services of Holy Communion and preach. Furthermore, the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (Flying Bishops) would be stood down, and parishes and clergy would revert to the direct oversight of diocesan bishops, including any women bishops who might be appointed in the future. In place of the legislation, there would be a ‘Code of Practice’, without legal support but to which the bishops would ‘have regard’.

The petition opposing the ‘Single Clause’ approach was set up deliberately to counter the letter circulated to numerous women clergy and two online petitions, one for male clergy and the other for laity, in support of that letter. It was initially reported that the letter had gathered ‘over 700’ signatures from women currently serving in the Church of England. Newspaper reports now say that number has risen to 1,276.

Meanwhile, the ‘pro-Single Clause’ petition for male clergy stands at 1,205 and that for the laity of both sexes at 1,998. Taken together, this would make 4,479 signatures — more than four times the 1,061 signatures on the petition opposing the ‘Single Clause’ approach.

Nevertheless, the figures indicate that a substantial proportion of the membership of the Church of England opposes the ‘Single Clause’ option, when compared with those in favour.

The Manchester Report, which forms the basis for the Bishops proposal, set out several ways in which provision might be made for those who could not accept the ministry of women bishops, up to and including the introduction of separate dioceses. It is known that a number of bishops favour that, but that the ‘Single Clause’ approach won approval in the House of Bishops by a bare majority.

Furthermore, the Manchester Report warned of the serious consequences that would accompany the introduction of a ‘Single Clause’ approach:

There is no doubt, therefore, that proceeding with legislation that removed the earlier safeguards would trigger a period of uncertainty and turbulence within the Church of England. Many priests and congregations would undoubtedly leave. The Church of England that emerged at the end of the process might possibly be more cohesive. It would undoubtedly be less theologically diverse.

Comparing the figures of the various petitions suggests that a very substantial percentage of the Church’s present membership would be alienated in the way that the Manchester Report warns.

John P Richardson

1 July 2008

The wording of the online petition is as below:

We, the undersigned, being members of the Church of England in England, agree with clause J6 of the Nottingham Statement, passed by the National Evangelical Anglican Congress in 1977.

With respect to the consecration of women as bishops in the Church of England, we regard the ‘Single Clause, Code of Practice’ option proposed in Annexe B of the Manchester Report as making insufficient provision for those who share this view.

We respectfully ask the House of Bishops and the General Synod to take this into account when considering legislation to consecrate women as bishops, and commend their consideration of the other options in the Manchester Report.

Clause J6 reads, “We repent of our failure to give women their rightful place as partners in mission with men. Leadership in the Church should be plural and mixed, ultimate responsibility normally singular and male.”

The petition may be found here at

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Daily Telegraph: Church of England faces split over women bishops

The Church of England faces a new split over the issue of women bishops after supporters of the plans vowed not to compromise ahead of a crucial vote on the issue at the General Synod in York next week.

Leading figures supporting the women's campaign from politics and the Church gathered at Westminster Abbey to warn legislators that the time has come to consecrate women as bishops, with no formal provision in law for traditonalists who object to the move on grounds of conscience.

More than 4,000 Anglicans have given their support to calls for the introduction of women bishops without special legislation to protect opponents of the move.

This includes 1,276 women clergy, whose signatures have been gathered in support of a letter written by Canon Lucy Winkett, precentor of St Paul's Cathedral, Canon Jane Hedges, Canon Steward of Westminster Abbey, and the Rev Rosemary Lain-Priestley, secretary of the National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women's Ministry. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

The Guardian: Church of England: Archbishop confronts Anglican rebels

The Archbishop of Canterbury last night directly challenged the rebel Anglicans who have launched a breakaway faction within the global communion. In unusually forthright language, he accused them of lacking legitimacy, authority and, by implication, integrity.

Breaking his silence over the conservative threat to the unity of the 77 million-strong communion, Williams warned the leaders of the conservative coalition that demolishing existing structures was not the answer to their concerns.

Responding to the creation at the weekend of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca), a global network for millions of Anglicans unhappy with liberal teaching on matters such as homosexuality and women priests, Williams said: "If they [the teachings] are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

The Times: Church of England clergy plan mass exit over women bishops

More than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the archbishops of Canterbury and York to say that they will defect from the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops.

As the wider Anglican Communion fragments over homosexuality, England’s established Church is moving towards its own crisis with a crucial vote on women bishops this weekend.

In a letter to Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, seen by The Times, the signatories give warning that they will consider leaving the Church if two crucial votes are passed to introduce female bishops.

The Church’s moderate centre is being pressured as never before by evangelicals opposed to gays, and traditionalists opposed to women’s ordination. The crisis is unprecedented since the Reformation devastated the Roman Catholic Church in England in the 16th century.

The General Synod, the Church’s governing body, meets in York on Friday, when clergy will decide whether legislation to consecrate women should be introduced, and whether it should have legal safeguards for traditionalists or a simple voluntary code to protect them.

The signatories to the letter – who represent 10 per cent of all practising clergy and hundreds of recently retired priests still active in the Church – will accept women bishops only if they have a legal right to separate havens within the Church. These would offer opponents of women bishops a network of parishes where they could worship under the leadership of exclusively male clergy and bishops. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Monday, 30 June 2008

TEC Presiding President responds to GAFCON statement

Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Archbishop of Canterbury Responds to GAFCON Statement

Monday 30 June 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has responded to the final declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference with the following statement:

The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The 'tenets of orthodoxy' spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON's deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion

However, GAFCON's proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

A 'Primates' Council' which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.

Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?

No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern. But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.

It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.

The language of 'colonialism' has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: 'wait for one another'. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord's field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

© Rowan Williams

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sidelined by new global Anglican movement

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been sidelined by a new orthodox movement which claims to represent almost half of the world's 80 million Anglicans.

Leaders of the organisation, that styles itself as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans, said Dr Rowan Williams would just be "recognised for his historic role" as the head of the worldwide Communion.

They added that in the "post-colonial reality" of a Church dominated by traditionalists in developing countries rather than England, he would no longer be the sole leader.

Organisers of the movement, which was formally announced at the end of the Gafcon summit in Jerusalem, also failed to mention the Archbishop of Canterbury in their declaration of the 14 central tenets. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the


THE Archbishop of Canterbury was facing a massive rebellion last night as his plans for gay and female bishops threatened to create a schism between Anglicans.

Dr Rowan Williams has been told to expect an 8,000-strong petition against women bishops just before the General Synod prepares to hold a crunch vote on the issue this Friday.

The bid to stop women breaking through the so-called stained-glass ceiling has been orchestrated by a woman – the wife of the Bishop of Burnley.

To add to Dr Williams’ woes, he was also having to deal with the unprecedented formation of another church within the Anglican community – and a clear challenge to the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Some religious commentators see Saturday’s formation of a new church representing more than half the world’s 80 million Anglicans as the most significant event in the church’s history since the Reformation.

The Gafcon movement, which stands for Global Anglican Future Conference, was launched by traditionalists who want to split from liberal churches in America and Canada.

In particular they are angry that Anglican leaders have failed to discipline churches that have openly consecrated gay bishops and blessed same-sex marriages.

Gafcon has vowed to create its own council of bishops as an alternative to churches it claims are preaching a “false gospel” of sexual immorality. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

US General Convention is heralded as ‘magisterium’

FRIDAY, JUNE 27 2008, Church of England Newspaper

THE FULLNESS of God’s revelation is expressed in the councils of the Episcopal Church, the president of the US General Convention’s House of Deputies told reporters last week.

In a briefing on the forthcoming Lambeth Conference held on May 30, Bonnie Anderson explained the “the joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of our belief that God speaks uniquely through laity, priests and deacons and bishops.”

The assertion of a magisterial authority for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church by Mrs Anderson follows upon a letter she sent on April 21 to deputies to the triennial gathering of the church’s synod.

“In the Episcopal Church the belief that God speaks uniquely through bishops, laity, priests and deacons, enables our participatory structure and allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment,” Mrs Anderson wrote, adding “the joint work of the Houses of Deputies and Bishops is the highest institutional expression of this belief.”

Critics of the American church’s liberalizing tendencies argue this usurpation of authority by General Convention - the gathering of clergy and lay deputies and bishops - has led to the church’s present theological and ecclesial morass.

Anglican commentator Dr Todd Granger notes Mrs Anderson’s teaching “goes well beyond what the Catholic Church teaches.”

While the Roman Magisterium “interprets the Word of God” as revealed in Tradition and Scripture, the “Episcopalian construal apparently creates a magisterium as an independent authority, uniquely receiving God’s Word,” Dr Granger notes. Such an understanding of authority offers a new understanding of the foundations of authority that bears little relation to traditional Anglican dogma, he said.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Sunday, 29 June 2008

GAFCON approved final statement

The approved final statement from GAFCON may be read here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.